Ask an Audiologist: Can Cotton Swabs Cause Ear Infections?

August 18th, 2017 | by Andreas Seelisch | Audiologist
Ask an Audiologist: Can Cotton Swabs Cause Ear Infections?

To use Q-Tips or not to use Q-Tips

Can cotton swabs, we often call Q-Tips, cause ear infections? The quick answer is yes and what’s even more, ear infections – in some cases – can cause hearing loss.

Audiologists and Hearing Instrument Specialists always recommend not using cotton swabs to clean your ears, no matter how perfect they may seem for the job. The little sticks usually covered in 100% cotton at both ends, are probably better suited for makeup removal or cleaning something that has small parts than your ears.

One of our Audiology experts tells us why we shouldn’t use Q-Tips in our ears.

Ask an Audiologist

Can I give myself an ear infection by using a Q-Tip?

I think I pushed it too far.

Read ‘6 Reasons why you should never clean your ears with cotton swabs

Audiologist Response


Thank you for your submission to Ask an Audiologist.

Yes, it’s possible for a Q-tip to cause an ear infection. The ear canal and ear drum are both very sensitive areas with thin layers of skin cells that can be easily injured by a Q-tip. Q-tips should only be used very carefully on the outermost part of the ear. I always tell my patients that they shouldn’t put anything in their ear smaller than their elbow.

I would first recommend that you see your primary healthcare provider so they can determine if there’s an infection in your ear and to treat it accordingly. I would also recommend that you make an appointment for a hearing test to determine if this has caused any loss in your hearing. At Hearing Solutions our hearing tests are free, and one of our Audiologists can fully evaluate your hearing needs and explain to you their recommendations. We have over 20 locations across Ontario if you’d like to book an appointment?

I hope that this information is helpful to you. Please let me know if you have any further questions.

All the best,

Stephanie Loder is a registered CASLPO Audiologist at Hearing Solutions. She currently sees patients at Hearing Solution’s Carlingwood Mall hearing aid clinic.

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